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Vegetable Gardening in Raised Beds

Gardening in raised beds is a joy. At our farm we grow all of our vegetables in raised beds and the majority of perennial plant Raised bed gardeningmother-stock are also grown in raised beds. Raised beds are becoming the preferred choice by most gardeners for home vegetable gardens.  Although constructing raised beds requires an initial investment of both time and money, the rewards you will reap in increased productivity and improved soil condition are worth it.

Raised beds are more productive for several reasons:

  1. Foot / cart traffic is restricted to garden paths, therefore the soil in raised beds remains loose and friable.
  2. Weed cloth can be installed in the bed before filling with soil to prevent weeds from resprouting.
  3. The construction of raised beds gives you the opportunity to correct a site which slopes or has poor drainage.
  4. The soil which you fill the raised beds with can easily be mixed to be the ideal PH and porosity for the vegetables you wish to grow.
  5. Proper crop rotation is much easier to accomplish with raised beds than standard garden rows.
  6. The soil in raised beds heats up faster than ground soil in the spring, allowing you to typically start planting 1-2 weeks earlier than in a standard inground garden row.

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden Bed:

The first step in building a raised vegetable garden bed is to make the frame. 
  • Determine the size of your box: We build our boxes all the same size 4 feet x12 feet with 2 foot cross pieces, to divide the box into 3 equal parts. We use untreated 2 x 12 boards available at most lumber yards. Steer clear of treated wood which contains chemicals and railroad ties for the same reason. When building a series of boxes, we cut all of the wood to length and then nail and screw the pieces together. It is worth it to spend a little extra time to ensure that your raised bed frame will last for years.
How to build a raised vegetable garden bedWe have found that is easiest to build the frame and then move it to the prepared site. If you want a raised bed that is 24 inches tall, simply build two frames and attach them together with stakes.
  • Next place the complete frame on level ground. Drive stakes along the inside of the bed every 4 feet into the ground to secure the frame in place. Screw the stakes to the inside of the frame.
  • Lay a layer of commercial grade ground cloth down to prevent weed seed from migrating to the surface.
  • Fill the bed with amended soil. If you are planting vegetables or fruits that like a higher acid pH, add peat moss and wood chips with the soil to help lower the pH value.
Depending on how large your garden area is, you can add frames together as we did in the picture at the top. We leave a 4 foot wide path between rows of raised boxes for carts and for working in the beds. In the winter we can cover each row with row crop if needed or netting the protect crops from the birds.

Next step is to plant your vegetable garden. For more articles on vegetable gardening visit our Garden Article Index.